Interview with Waterford's Katie Kim
Katie Kim is one of the many fine acts to emerge from Waterford in recent times. Her album last year, Twelve, met with a warm critical reception with Donal Dineen championing ‘Radio’ on his show and Jim Carroll dubbing it a “subtle, slow-burring magic”. Earlier this year she jetted off to Toronto, but she returned recently. She talked to Cluas to discuss Canada, the ups and downs of her career to date, and the future.
So, Katie, you have been in Canada a few months at this stage. How has it been treating you?
Well I was there for around 3 months. I'm back now. There’s still a big question mark looming over my head about why I went at the particular time I did. Twelve had just been released, I adored my band, I was starting to get used to the live situation and the album just started getting some really good attention. But I had been living in Ireland for a long, long time and as excited as I was about Irish music and Waterford (where I live) at the time, I needed to get out and see, experience, wake up, write, record somewhere else. So I did and I had an amazing time. But I had to be there to realise that it was like starting over all over again, which I wasn’t ready to do. I missed my band too much and the amazing people in it.
I’m actually headed over to Vancouver in a couple of months. Are there any cultural quirks that a fellow Irish traveller should be aware of?
I really don’t want to generalise here but oh god yes!! The sense of humour is quite different. I've been reared in a country where taking the piss out of each other is the norm and if you can’t hack it; close the door as you leave! But I discovered this isn’t the Canadian way! Also I had to get used to fragile Canadian male emotion! The guys over there are so open about their feelings! Very Dr. Phil-like, but as I said I don’t want to generalise. They are also one of the nicest most accommodating bunch of people I've been lucky enough to encounter.
Was there anything you missed most about Ireland? Musically or otherwise?
When I was there I spoke to lots of promoters and journalists who were so shocked I left Europe to come to Toronto. They just couldn’t get it! It was all:" Why did you come here?? Europe is amazing! We’ve sent all our bands over there to make money" But I suppose it’s the same wherever you go. I was too busy being wide-eyed to really miss anything to be honest. Except, of course, again, my band.
When did your first love of music bloom, and musically, who or what has been the biggest influence on your music?
First? Hmmmm... I would say, clichéd as it is, always: from a memory of standing on a piano in a hotel at my sister's confirmation singing 'Frère Jacques' when I was 3 to my obsession with the Sound of Music and learning every word of every musical that came out around that time to the Queen obsession, when I was 7 years old. When Freddie Mercury died, I can remember being inconsolable. Just terrible, and on and on. All of these things and all of the other things that came after influenced me and still do. Music influences me. People influence me. Art influences me. I couldn’t possible try to pin-point one biggest influence.
Have you played many gigs there yet? How does it compare to Ireland?
I played 3 gigs in Toronto; one in a vintage clothing store, one in a Goth club and one with a whole heap of amazing Irish bands for Canadian Music Week. Then we went on down to New York and played down there. Everyone seemed to really enjoy them. I got amazing feedback and made a lot of new friends. But comparison-wise, it really didn’t differ much. The Irish tag was a bit more impressive over there though. As it is here with bands from abroad.
In 2005 you released an album with your previous band Dae Kim on Matador. Why did we hear no more from them?
I don't know. They are a seriously talented bunch of people. I believe Dae Kim is no more now. But Ian Chestnut (the guitarist) and Ellie (drummer) is now Percolator. Who are awesome! Check them out - http://www.myspace.com/percolators! Dave Grimes (original member and guitar genius) is now The Bear People, he is a one of a kind talent. Tommy Farrell (bass player) is now in a band called Fighting Spiders, and Terry Cullen is now running his own PR company called Pier 13. Terry was in the game for a long time and I suppose he needed a break. Being in that band taught me nearly everything though. I had a f*cking amazing time in Dae Kim.
You released your debut solo album last year. Were you happy with the reception it received?
I'm still a bit shocked about it, because it was such a small little release. I didn’t make it awfully accessible. It being only released on vinyl and really no press except on Myspace and one or two reviews. Donal Dineen started playing ‘Radio’ regularly and people started talking from there, so I have a lot to thank him for. He’s also hero of mine, so you can imagine.
Disaster struck when you were recording the album. For those not in the know, do you want to tell them what happened?
I left a fantastic music course in Cork, used the money to buy my first computer so I could start home recording. I recorded around 40 - 50 tracks, it got a bug after a year - an internet bug may I add, nothing to do with the recording software, so I asked the guy who built it for me to fix the small bug. He did so by simply wiping everything on the hard drive. So! Gone! Forever! Like I’ve said before, they were hazy days. I went through a lot of wine during that period. A lot of wine.
What made you decide to only release Twelve on vinyl?
I worked in record store for nearly 5 years. I saw how beat up CDs get. They’re so fragile but at the same time, sometimes so throwaway. I love vinyl - the smell, the way people look after them and look up to them and the sound of the needle if it gets a bit dusty is like morphine to me. So it was an easy decision. I’ve had to make up a few CDs though, as a lot of people have got on to me about it, so there'll be 200 made, but that’s it.
You have collaborated with numerous artists over here, such as Ten Past Seven, David Kitt and Cars In Walls. Have you any plans to hook up with some Canadian artists?
I'm going to be working with Milosh (an ambient electro producer). Dineen introduced us, which I was elated about. He makes beautiful music. I met so many great people over there, that I'm still in touch with and we all send tunes through e-mails to other and do bits and bobs for each other when we need it.
If you had to pick one moment, what has been the best moment of your career to date?
Hearing Radio being played on Small Hours for the first time.
What is your next step from here?
Lock myself away with everyone for a while, write, record, play, travel and buy a Tenori-on.